Pecan date bars are made with a gluten-free buttery oat crumb mixture and filled with naturally sweet dates and nuts; they're easy to make and so delicious!
Pecan date bars are similar to classic old fashioned date bars but made grain free by using rolled oats and oat flour. The date mixture is sweet and tender, and it balances the buttery crumb crust wonderfully. It’s like a cookie bar with a chewy date filling, and it’s the perfect holiday treat, especially if you love dates!
Why this pecan date bar recipe is so good!
These date bars are not too sweet and they hold together beautifully, making them a great make ahead treat that the whole family will love. They are made with oat flour so they are gluten-free. They have a long shelf life too, so you can make them ahead of time and they are perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast. And hey, if you love the pecan date combo, you have should make my date cookies next!
How to make date bars
Make the date filling
Chop the dates, then add them to boiling water and simmer on the stovetop for 10 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature and stir in the lemon juice and pecans. The mixture will become thick and paste-like, but spreadable. Feel free to leave out the nuts or switch with other nuts you prefer. They don’t have to be pecan date bars, they can be walnut date bars 😉
Make the crust
Now you’ll work with the dry ingredients to make the crust for the date bars. Just combine flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and whisk them together. Add some melted butter and use your fingertips to rub the butter with the dry ingredients. You want everything to become moist and clumps to form.
Assemble and bake
Next use your hands to take half of that buttery crust mixture and press it into a square pan (either 8×8 or 9×9 will work). Make sure there are no gaps and that you spread the mixture evenly on the pan. Spread the cooled date mixture evenly on top of the base crust. It helps to use the back of a small spoon or a spatula to spread the mixture easily
Finally, sprinkle what’s left of the oat mixture over the date mixture. Press down so it all sticks together well. And then you’re ready to bake these pecan date bars.
Although the color on top won’t change too much, the texture of the date bars will harden so you’ll know they’re done. The trick to getting these to remain in tact and not crumble is to let them rest. I usually leave them overnight, but I would recommend at least an hour.
Tips for making pecan date bars
- Make sure to use a larger piece of parchment paper than the baking pan. This will allow some of the paper to hang on the sides, making it easier to lift the date bars out of the pan and slice them neatly. And you won’t even get the pan dirty!
- Customize the date mixture with other add-ins you’d like. I love the combination of pecans with dates, but it works great with any other type of nuts, shredded coconuts, seeds or even chocolate chips. Just make sure to finely chop whatever you add in there.
- Be sure to press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan pretty firmly. This will help to make sure that the pecan date bars stick together and don’t fall apart when you cut into them. When you add the second layer on top, you can use less pressure.
- Let them cool completely before cutting them. I would recommend at least one hour, but they set even more beautifully if you wait until the next day.
Frequently asked questions
What are the best dates to use in these bars?
You can use medjool or deglet noor dates for this recipe. I like to buy ones that are already pitted as this cuts down on the prep time quite considerably; it’s especially great when you little kids who snack on dates! Dates add a natural sweetness to each bite as well as being a good source of fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients.
How long to pecan date bars keep?
Once the bars have cooled and you cut them, store them in a fridge in an airtight container for up to 7 days. You don’t need to add any parchment paper in between as they won’t stick together. The bars also freeze really well, for up to 3 months, and you can thaw them at room temperature before serving.
How can I make the date bars vegan?
The only non-vegan ingredient in these pecan date bars is the butter. I preferred it to using coconut oil for the best crumb texture and taste. However, you can easily make these vegan by trying it with coconut oil, although I think vegan butter would work better.
More bars recipes:
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (No Bake)
- Breakfast Oatmeal Bars
- Vegan Lemon Bars
- No Bake Samoa Bars
- Easy Pumpkin Bars
This date bar recipe is a great one to have in your baking arsenal! I love that they have a long shelf life and don’t require any special equipment to make. They are grain-free and packed full of healthy ingredients, so they are great to have on hand when you get a sugar craving.
If you’ve tried this feel good Pecan Date Bars recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
For the Filling
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ cup pecans finely chopped
For the Base
- 1 1/2 cups oat flour
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter melted
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper hanging wider than the pan so it hangs from the sides. Grease the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray.
- Bring 1 1/2 cups water to boil in medium saucepan. Add dates; simmer until very soft and thick, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Stir in lemon juice and pecans.
- Combine flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in large bowl; stir to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until moist clumps form. Press half of oat mixture evenly and firmly over bottom of prepared pan. Spread date mixture evenly on top of the base crust. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture; press gently to adhere.
- Bake until the top it set and the bars are golden brown at edges, about 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack (about one hour). Cut into 16 bars and serve.
- To make them vegan, you can use melted coconut oil or vegan butter (which is what I would recommend)
- To make them refined sugar free, substitute the 2/3 cup brown sugar for 1/4 cup maple syrup.
- Instead of oat flour, you can use almond flour or even regular all-purpose flour.
- Instead of pecans, you can use any other finely chopped nuts or other add-ins of your choice.